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In "How Jesus Became God" Prof. Bart D. Ehrman tackles the question of how Jesus became to be thought of as God from a historical perspective. In many ways this book draws and summarizes a lot of his research on the New Testament thus far.
Ehrman's book consists out of 9 chapters and an epilogue. In the first two chapters he sets the scene, helping the listener to come to grips with how divinity was seen in the ancient world. First he discusses divine humans in Ancient Greece and Rome, where after he focuses on Ancient Judaism's views of these beings. I think this might be of much interest to someone that are not familiar with the ancient milieu in which Christianity was born. In chapter 3 he discusses the question if Jesus thought of himself as God. He answers in the negative and gives some reasons based on his (and probably most other critical scholars') understanding of the Historical Jesus. In chapters 4 and 5 he tackles Jesus' resurrection stating first what can be known about it historically and then indicating what cannot be known. He makes a case out that Jesus' body was not buried in a tomb and that the "tomb"-tradition was later apologetic Christian tradition. As the listener you will have to decide if he is convincing or not. Chapters 6 and 7 deals with how early Christians during and before the New Testament perceived Jesus to be divine. The issue of when Jesus became divine also comes into play. In chapters 8 and 9 his focus shifts to the time after the New Testament was written until the 4th century. He discusses what would be called in a Theological class the History of Dogma. Here he draws a lot on his book "Lost Christianities" in these chapters, reflecting on the various types of "Christianities" and how it defined Jesus in the eyes' of these communities.
I think it is quite an important book. Ehrman once again successfully made scholarship available to untrained individuals. I don't think that this book should shake a Christian's faith. It might though.
Walter Dixon is an old hand at reading Ehrman's book. I am currently quite accustomed to his voice. It is clear and to the point.
If you are interested in how Jesus became divine, this book might just be for you. If you want something that will affirm your faith, this might not be the book for you. Be this as it may, this book contains some interesting facts. It makes it worthwhile to listen. Ehrman has mastered the skill to communicate properly. Listen to it, and decide for yourself.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
"So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth". - Revelation 3:16
'How Jesus Became God' is a good packaging of current scholarship on the historical Jesus for the neophyte. The book basically explores how the crucified Jesus transformed into not just the Messiah, but the Lord of all creation. He examines the exaltation of Jesus from an apocalyptic preacher from Galilee into a figure fully equal with God. He looks at how this type of change happened in Greek and Roman culture, in Jewish culture, and how Paul and later disciples of Christ were influential in transforming their crucified prophet into their risen Lord. He also spends a fair amount of time explaining why it is impossible for historians to validate miracles, a person's divinity or specific religious events like Christ's resurrection.
Perhaps, I was just wishing for a bit more meat on the bones of this book or perhaps I was just not that surprised by many of Ehrman's points (He has covered several sections of this book in previous books about early Christianity and Jesus), but I kinda felt like this was just a watered-down repackaging of some of his better, more academic past efforts. Nothing too revelatory or Earth shattering. For me, it was about the same level of writing as Aslan's Zealot. It just seems these books while aiming for a bit of controversy (controversy sells), don't load their books with enough weight. Those who agree with them have already traveled a bunch of this same ground, those who don't agree with them are served a slim dish that seems a bit too facile. Or maybe it was just me.
30 of 35 people found this review helpful